Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Short Takes

U.S. worried about living up to Netanyahu’s campaign promises.

Native American council offers amnesty to 220 million undocumented white people.

Boehner calls for National Guard to deal with illegal immigrants hiding in Mexico.

Sarah Palin announces presidential bid for 2016; vows to destroy Obama’s “liberal utopia.”

God shoots Himself while cleaning his gun.

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Jeb Chimes In

We know where the nutsery comes down on Indiana’s RFRA, but let’s see what the “establishment” Republicans who are planning to be the adults in the 2016 race are saying:

“I think Governor Pence has done the right thing,” said Mr. Bush, who is expected to run for president in 2016. “I think once the facts are established, people aren’t going to see this as discriminatory at all.”

It all depends on what you mean by “moderate.”  If you mean the kind of “moderate” who will get the federal government to force through a law to keep a dead person strapped to a feeding tube for the love of the Baby Jesus, he’s your guy.

Monday, March 30, 2015

With Friends Like These

Ted Cruz is off and running, which in his case are two different things [rimshot].

Not only has he pulled in the expected amount of derision from the liberal side of the tracks, but as Anne Laurie at Balloon Juice has compiled, he’s getting a good deal of flack from the right as well.

Charles C.W. Cooke at the National Review:

Striking a pose that lands somewhere between the oleaginousness of a Joel Osteen and the self-assuredness of a midwestern vacuum-cleaner salesman, Cruz delivers his speeches as might a mass-market motivational speaker in an Atlantic City Convention Center. The country, he tells his audiences rather obsequiously, will be saved by “people like you” — people, that is, who are willing to text the word “Constitution” to the number 33733, and to contribute generously to his political action committee…

[…]

For what it is worth, my prediction is that there is not. Rather, I expect that Cruz will push the Republican field a little to the right, but that he will ultimately fail to catch fire. Moreover, I’d guess that if Cruz does somehow end up as the nominee he will lose convincingly…

Daniel Larison at The American Conservative:

Cruz is a skillful demagogue, and he’ll be able to put on quite a show during candidate debates, but that will probably take the form of accusing the other candidates of being sell-outs and attributing views to them that they don’t hold. That is normally how he responds to criticism from within his own party. He also repeatedly misleads his followers about what can be achieved by following his lead, and then denounces people on his side for “failing” to defer to his bad leadership and blames them for the failure he orchestrated. Since he claims to believe that the party must nominate a “real” conservative in order to win, he will be at pains to portray all of his rivals as anything but that. All of this will remind the voters outside of his core supporters why so many people that have dealt with him viscerally dislike him.

As E.K. Hornbeck notes in the film of Inherit the Wind, “He has no enemies.  Only his friends hate him.”

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Poor Babies

What does it take to buy a decent election these days?

At this point in the 2012 presidential race, Terry Neese was in hot demand.

“Gosh, I was hearing from everyone and meeting with everyone,” said Neese, an Oklahoma City entrepreneur and former “Ranger” for President George W. Bush who raised more than $1 million for his reelection.

This year, no potential White House contender has called — not even Bush’s brother, Jeb. As of early Wednesday, the only contacts she had received were e-mails from staffers for two other likely candidates; both went to her spam folder.

“They are only going to people who are multi-multimillionaires and billionaires and raising big money first,” said Neese, who founded a successful employment agency. “Most of the people I talk to are kind of rolling their eyes and saying, ‘You know, we just don’t count anymore.’ ”

It’s the lament of the rich who are not quite rich enough for 2016.

Bundlers who used to carry platinum status have been downgraded, forced to temporarily watch the money race from the sidelines. They’ve been eclipsed by the uber-wealthy, who can dash off a seven-figure check to a super PAC without blinking. Who needs a bundler when you have a billionaire?

Many fundraisers, once treated like royalty because of their extensive donor networks, are left pining for their lost prestige. Can they still have impact in a world where Jeb Bush asks big donors to please not give more than $1 million to his super PAC right now? Will they ever be in the inner circle again?

“A couple presidential elections ago, somebody who had raised, say, $100,000 for a candidate was viewed as a fairly valuable asset,” said Washington lobbyist Kenneth Kies. “Today, that looks like peanuts. People like me are probably looking around saying, ‘How can I do anything that even registers on the Richter scale?’ ”

Gee, you mean that you’ll just have to do like the rest of the 99.9% of the country?  What are we coming to?

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Sphincter Element

Josh Marshall summarizes the reasons Ted Cruz will never become president.

Most people, including most Republicans, find Ted Cruz grating, divisive and arrogant. That makes it extremely hard to make the kind of emotive connection with voters who come to elections without strong ideological moorings. Cruz’s great strength, albeit with a small but intensely devoted slice of the national conservative electorate, is that he has taken the unbridled self-assertion and norm-breaking which make him intolerable to many up close and cast them as the ultimate expression of the right-wing id. Also another thing, people don’t like assholes.

[…]

Ted Cruz does not play ball. He is arrogant. He causes lots of damage for Republicans who either have moderate views or are in the business of politics. Ted is not good for business in either the good or bad senses of the term – whether that’s people who simply want to govern or those most focused on delivering goods for constituents (or getting people who are not named Ted Cruz elected). Ted will never be elected president. And I think it is very, very unlikely he will get the GOP nomination. The most likely outcome is that he will pull well with far right Republicans and pull the field to the right.

To summarize, pass the popcorn.

Make mine Redenbacher Buttered, please.

He’ll Take What He Wants To Take Away From You

Via the Des Moines Register:

Ted Cruz, one of the loudest critics of Obamacare, will soon be using it for health insurance coverage.

“We will presumably go on the exchange and sign up for health care, and we’re in the process of transitioning over to do that,” Cruz, a Republican candidate for president, told The Des Moines Register on Tuesday.

Cruz’s wife, Heidi, is going on an unpaid leave of absence from her job at Goldman Sachs to join Cruz full time on the campaign trail, Cruz told the Register.

Bloomberg was first to report that Heidi Cruz has taken the leave. CNN noted that Cruz, who has boasted about not needing to receive government health care benefits, would no longer be covered under his wife’s health insurance plan.

Cruz confirmed that to the Register.

I’ll give him credit for being upfront about his hypocrisy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Common Knowledge

Ted Cruz says one of his dreams is to “repeal every word of Common Core.”

Oh, that sounds like a great idea: repeal the federally-mandated curriculum that each state must implement or risk losing federal grants.

Except it’s bullshit.  All of it.  First, Common Core is not a law, so it can’t be repealed.  Second, it is not “federally-mandated.”  Common Core was voluntarily adopted by the states.  Third, the U.S. Department of Education cannot, by federal law, dictate to the states or school districts what they have in their curricula.  Fourth, the major federal education grant, Race To The Top, has nothing to do with Common Core.  RTTT, which came out in 2010, has been distributed already, and so whatever funds are still left to be spent were not and cannot be held up based on compliance with Common Core, which doesn’t require compliance in the first place.

Ted Cruz knows all of this, and yet he is making up shit about it.  Why?  Because he knows he can fool his followers into believing him.

Someone To Run Against Rubio

If he doesn’t run for president, Marco Rubio will have to defend his Senate seat here in Florida in 2016.  The Florida Democratic Party, which could ride to the convention in a ’67 Volkswagen, is going to have to come up with a challenger if they want to have any self-respect.

Charlie Crist, whose last attempt at the Senate went up like the Hindenburg when he lost the primary to Mr. Rubio and then got wiped out when he ran as an independent, has said he is not interested in trying to run as a Democrat.  Rep. Alan Grayson, who has had a mercurial record of winning, losing, and winning again, is hobbled by a nasty divorce trial.  His appeal is tempered by his antics; he’s more famous for saying things that get him air time than actually doing anything.  Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the current head of the DNC, has also indicated she will not run for the Senate.

Rep. Patrick Murphy is best known for beating Allen West, the Tea Party Republican who held a Broward County district hostage while he entertained the folks at Fox News.  He is a former Republican and votes a centrist streak, which could have appeal on a statewide level.

If Marco Rubio decides to forgo a re-election bid to run for president, it will be an open seat, and I can see Murphy winning it.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Getting The Band Back Together

Donald Trump is blowing his own horn and Rick Santorum is playing base.

One attendee asked Santorum why Republicans in Congress did nothing to stop “communist dictator” Obama from “destroying my country,” mentioning the president’s executive actions on immigration and the time when “Obama tried to blow up a nuke in Charleston a few months ago.” (In case you aren’t familiar, several far-right outlets and pundits have embraced a bizarre claim that Obama tried to nuke Charleston as part of a potential false flag operation). “I want him out of the White House, he’s not a citizen and he could’ve been removed a long time ago,” she added.

Santorum told the questioner that congressional Republicans are showing a “complete lack of leadership” in failing to stop Obama’s “dangerous” immigration actions: “As you’ve mentioned, the word tyrant comes to mind.”

It’s gonna be a monster concert.

Friday, March 13, 2015

How To Be A Tyrant

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), along with the rest of the GOP, has complained about President Obama being a tyrant.  That is, of course, when he’s not been weak and apologetic.    So it’s not what he does but how he does it, and Mr. Graham has a suggestion on how to be a real tyrant:

And here’s the first thing I would do if I were president of the United States. I wouldn’t let Congress leave town until we fix this. I would literally use the military to keep them in if I had to. We’re not leaving town until we restore these defense cuts. We are not leaving town until we restore the intel cuts.

I love it when he’s so butch.

Sen. Graham’s office later released a clarification:

Graham’s spokesperson has clarified to Bloomberg that when Graham said “I would literally use the military to keep them in if I had to,” that statement was “not to be taken literally.” Glad that’s been cleared up.

Obviously he was joking and no one takes him seriously, but when you’re teasing the crowd about running for president, you can’t just make a funny and not expect people to hear it and run with it.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Taking Marco Rubio To School

The junior senator from Florida has been making noise about the Middle East, warning that the Obama administration has been afraid to go after ISIS because that would upset Iran.  Wow, that would be a good reason, except that Iran hates ISIS as much as everybody else.  It’s like saying the Allies went easy on Germany in World War II so as not to piss off the Russians.

Yesterday Mr. Rubio had a chance to take his concerns to Capitol Hill and hog a little camera time while grilling Secretary of State Kerry about the nuclear deal with Iran.  He thought he could show the rest of us — or at least the GOP base — that he’s ready to take on the world.

Yeah, it didn’t turn out so well.  Via Steve Benen:

At the recent CPAC gathering, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a likely Republican presidential candidate, seemed to stumble on one of the basic facts of the Middle East. “The reason Obama hasn’t put in place a military strategy to defeat ISIS is because he doesn’t want to upset Iran,” the Florida Republican said.

The senator seemed confused. In reality, President Obama has put an anti-ISIS military strategy in place, and that’s fine with Iran, since Iran and ISIS are enemies.

I’d hoped that Rubio just misspoke, or had been briefed poorly but an aide, but apparently not – -at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing this afternoon, the far-right Floridian continued to push this strange theory, pressing Secretary of State John Kerry on the point. “I believe that much of our strategy with regards to ISIS is being driven by a desire not to upset Iran so they don’t walk away from the negotiating table on the deal that you’re working on,” Rubio said. “Tell me why I’m wrong.”

And so, Kerry told him why he’s wrong.

Rubio went on to insist that many of our Sunni allies in the region – including Jordan and U.A.E. – feel as if we’ve kept them “in the dark” about the nuclear talks with Iran, reducing our “trust level” in the region.

Again, Kerry had to patiently explained to the Republican, “Senator, that is actually flat wrong.”

Honestly, it was like watching a competent teacher trying to explain the basics of current events to a student who failed to do his homework. Andrea Mitchell said the Secretary of State took Rubio “to school.”

Sounds like Marco has a lot of catching up to do.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Contradictions

Both Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson had other jobs besides perpetually running for office.  Before he was governor of Arkansas, Mr. Huckabee was — and I assume still is — an ordained Baptist minister.  Dr. Carson was — and I assume still is — a neurosurgeon.  So it’s worth noting when both of them came up with statements that seemed to contradict their previous vocations.

Mr. Huckabee is proud of his Christian faith, but he doesn’t seem to be on board with one of the basic tenets of the faith: help the poor and downtrodden, lift them up, give them aid, and provide for their needs.

A country that does not have secure borders is really not a country anymore. I think we’ve made all the wrong decisions as it relates to immigration because we’ve put the focus on ‘what do we do with all the people who are here’ when the question is ‘what do we do to stem the tide of people who are rushing over because they heard there is a bowl of food just across the border if you can rush across and get there now?’

I guess I missed the part in the Gospels where Jesus said “Feed the poor but check for the green card.”

Dr. Carson has a degree in medicine and he is now retired from a very successful practice of neurosurgery.  I assume that at some point in his training he learned about the basics of gender identity and orientation.  The reason I know that is because they teach that in high school biology, and you need to take that class before you get into med school.  So why would he come up with the theory that being gay is a choice in the same way that people choose fashion or faith?

During the interview Wednesday morning, when Carson was asked by Chris Cuomo whether being gay is a choice, he replied: “Absolutely.”

“Because a lot of people who go into prison go into prison straight — and when they come out, they’re gay. So, did something happen while they were in there? Ask yourself that question,” Carson said.

He has since sorta apologized, said he was misquoted, and got flack from the hard-core base for backing down.  (I wonder what he would have said if he’d been asked if being black is a choice.)

I don’t think there’s any likelihood that Mike Huckabee or Ben Carson will ever be elected as President of the United States, so their thoughts on issues of the day such as immigration or marriage equality have as much impact as those of the average game-show host or D-level blogger.  But it is worth considering that both men get out there and garner support from a percentage — albeit rather small — of the Republican base.  They say things that they know will generate attention and therefore money, and I suppose in our wonderful world of capitalism, they’re just as entitled to find a way to make a buck as the guy on early-morning TV selling a Teeter-Hanger or Super Beta prostate pills.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Success By Failure

Headline in the New York Times on Saturday:

Charter School in Miami Fails, but Proves Useful on Jeb Bush’s Résumé

The short version is that Jeb Bush used Liberty City Charter School as a prop in his race to the governorship.  Once he got there, it was a different story.

… his firsthand experience in the education of underprivileged urban grade-schoolers lends him credibility in a party that has suddenly seized upon the gap between the rich and poor as politically promising terrain. In his first speech as a likely presidential candidate in Detroit last month, Mr. Bush credited Liberty City Charter School with helping “change education in Florida”

But Mr. Bush’s uplifting story of achievement and reform avoided mentioning the school by name or its unhappy ending. For all his early and vital involvement during his 1998 campaign for governor, and for all the help he offered from afar in the governor’s office, Mr. Bush’s commitment to his school project was not as enduring as some students and teachers might have hoped.

Critics of charter schools note that Liberty City, named after the impoverished African-American neighborhood from which many of its students hailed, also set an unfortunate precedent for the short life span of schools whose survival is dependent on their financial as well as academic success. And while Ms. Wilson-Davis does not blame Mr. Bush for the school’s demise, members of her former faculty and student body wonder whether it ultimately did more for him than he did for it. What everyone agrees is that Mr. Bush moved on.

So yip-yah; Jeb Bush can turn an educational experiment into something to campaign on despite the fact that it is now a smoldering ruin at taxpayers’ — not to mention the kids’ — expense.  It looks like he did learn something from his brother.

In the real world, this would be a more damning piece of news than where Hillary Clinton stored her e-mail.  But we don’t live in the real world, so there.

Friday, March 6, 2015

A Tale of Two States

Policy.Mic looks at Minnesota and Wisconsin — one with Democrats in charge, the other with Republicans running the place — and compares and contrasts.

Since 2011, Minnesota has been doing quite well for itself. The state has created more than 170,000 jobs, according to the Huffington Post. Its unemployment rate stands at 3.6% — the fifth-lowest in the country, and far below the nationwide rate of 5.7% — and the state government boasts a budget surplus of $1 billion. Forbesconsiders Minnesota one of the top 10 in the country for business.

[…]

How Minnesota did it: The progressive economic policies in the North Star State came into being after the election of Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton. In 2010, Dayton surprised many political observers in Minnesota when he managed to win the governor’s mansion, as the first Democrat to seize the governor’s mansion in more than two decades. His political career up until that point was mainly defined by failure, despite the fact that he was a billionaire heir with countless resources.

Dayton’s margin of victory wasn’t impressive, but he was eventually able to make a dramatic mark on the direction of the state’s public policies. He instituted a wide variety of progressive policies that rendered him the “most liberal governor in the country in terms of his willingness to raise taxes and to spend,” University of Minnesota political scientist Larry Jacobs told Mother Jones.

Just across the Mississippi River is the state of Wisconsin.  The governor, Scott Walker, is the darling of the right wing of the GOP (sorry, that’s redundant), so he must be governing a paradise on earth:

By a number of measures, Wisconsin hasn’t fared as well as Minnesota. As the Milwaukee Sentinel Journal reports, Wisconsin’s job growth has been among the worst in the region, and income growth is one of the worst in the country. It has a higher unemployment rate than Minnesota. And the budget is in bad shape:

Our transportation budget has a $750 million hole in it, our health care budget is $760 million in the red, and that’s all on top of a $1.8 billion general budget deficit. Add it up and Walker has essentially taken a balanced budget and turned it into a deficit nearly as large as the one created by the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression.

Now, no political leader can take full credit or blame for the economic health of the state they oversee — the economy is shaped by a number of structural factors and historic trends that any one politician has little control over. Consider, for example, that Minnesota’s economy was outperforming Wisconsin by a number of measures beginning earlier than the recession.

But here’s what we can say: Dayton’s progressive vision for Minnesota has not ruined the economy, and has likely helped it. Walker’s conservative vision has clearly not ushered in the free market paradise he envisioned. And it’s noteworthy that since the Great Recession and the implementation of their divergent philosophies, Minnesota’s economy has pulled further ahead of Wisconsin in several areas.

So why is Scott Walker even being considered as presidential material?

Oh, and speaking of self-destructing Republican governors:

Gov. Sam Brownback (R) and the Republican-controlled legislature in Kansas is inching ever so slowly toward expanding Medicaid under Obamacare. If Kansas did expand Medicaid, it would be the latest in a list of deep-red states—including Arkansas, Utah, and Indiana—to actually take federal dollars through Obamacare, despite having conservative legislatures and fire-breathing, anti-ACA Republican governors.

Heh.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

All Aboard

We’re gonna need more than just a clown car; maybe a Klown Bus.

This time, Donald J. Trump says, he really means it.

The billionaire real-estate mogul, who has long amounted to a one-man sideshow in GOP presidential politics, said in an interview Wednesday that he is “more serious” than ever about pursuing a run for the White House in 2016.

In recent days, Trump said, he has hired staffers in key primary states, retained an election attorney and delayed signing on for another season as host of NBC’s “The Celebrity Apprentice” because of his political projects.

“Everybody feels I’m doing this just to have fun or because it’s good for the brand,” Trump said in an interview with The Washington Post. “Well, it’s not fun. I’m not doing this for enjoyment. I’m doing this because the country is in serious trouble.”

But wait, don’t order yet; there’s more.

Todd Akin is considering a primary challenge to Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) in 2016.

“I have not ruled anything out,” the former congressman and 2012 GOP Senate nominee told The Hill in a phone interview on Wednesday.

“I think there is a high level of dissatisfaction among conservatives, that they have to some degree been pushed out of the Republican Party,” he continued. “The sentiment is there. The Tea Party is skeptical and wants some fresh blood, not just the same establishment guys.”

Akin’s reemergence is sure to be an unwelcome development for national Republicans.

During his 2012 race against Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), the Republican triggered a firestorm of criticism from both Democrats and fellow Republicans for saying that women rarely get pregnant from “legitimate rape” during a discussion about why abortion should be illegal in all cases, even rape and incest.

When Akin refused to back down, the GOP essentially abandoned him in the once-winnable race, and his gaffes hurt the party across the board.

Yay, popcorn for everyone!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Scare Tactic

Scott Walker thinks that his reputation for destroying public-sector labor unions will frighten people.

…Walker argued that when Reagan fired the PATCO air-traffic controllers over their illegal strike, he was sending a message of toughness to Democrats and unions at home as well as our Soviet enemies abroad. Similarly, Walker believes his stance against unions in Wisconsin would be a signal of toughness to Islamic jihadists and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

In a way, he’s right.  That kind of thinking is already scaring the crap out of me.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Mad Libs Test

If you are planning to run for president, Congress, or city council and someone asks you “Do you think [person] is a [noun]” where that noun is regarding the person’s faith, patriotism, or citizenship and your answer is anything but “That’s a really stupid question,” then you had better reconsider running for office.  Any other response reveals more about your character flaws than those of the person you’re asked about.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Getting The Band Back Together

Jeb Bush told his audience in Chicago that “I am my own man” in his attempt to distance his foreign policy from the previous versions of Bush in the White House.  Oh really?

If Bush’s goal is to present himself as his “own man,” that list of advisers undermines the point somewhat: 19 of the 21 people on it worked in the administrations of his father or brother. We’ve identified the roles each played in the past three Republican administrations, divvying them up as needed in the following Venn diagram.

Jeb Bush Ven Diagram 02-19-15.

On the whole, I’d rather they’d be playing at The Hague.